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Ian Destroyer of Forums
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Blog host question on 09/03/2013 19:00:27 MDT Print View

I've been contemplating the idea of starting a blog to share my stories and experiences from my travels, backpacking trips, and other adventures.

I like Wordpress as a platform but I'm stuck on which host to use.

I've considered using Bluehost as it seems to be user friendly and from what I've googled, they seem to have a stellar reputation. The current $48 a year doesn't give me any concern. I'm not entirely sure how much of a benefit one click script installs are and I suppose other hosts probably offer this for less or no cost. I'm mildly concerned about my ability to transfer to another host later on but seeing that I have no aspirations to make money with my blog my concern is probably unfounded.

Any input from any of you bloggers or those of you in the know is greatly appreciated.

Edit: Regarding Wordpress blogs, is it possible to tell which host they are using? For example, Stick's Blog has advertisements unrelated to his blog at the bottom. I assume that he's using a no cost host in exchange for their ability to sell advertising space?

Edited by IDBLOOM on 09/03/2013 19:11:43 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Blog host question on 09/03/2013 19:09:36 MDT Print View

Of course you can have WordPress host it for free.

I use HostGator and have only had one problem in over a year. That was a down server for about 12 hours.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Blog host question on 09/03/2013 19:11:19 MDT Print View

"I'm mildly concerned about my ability to transfer to another host later on but seeing that I have no aspirations to make money with my blog my concern is probably unfounded. "

Exactly what are your concerns?

Yes, I think Wordpress is a very practical way to go.

I guess some of it boils down to whether you intend to manage your own domain. You get a little more freedom that way, but then there are some management duties.

I had mine hosted by a well-known hosting company for about three years, but they supplied the required blogging tools. As long as the tools worked, then there was no problem. Then when the tools did not work and I would file a technical complaint, I expected quick fixes. When the fixes went from super slow to never, then they lost my business. In a flash, I had the domain transferred to a different hosting company. There are no required tools, although they supply quite a number for me to choose from. Sometimes you can get a better deal if you know exactly what your blog will end up looking like. I mean, if you have lots of video, then that requires some bandwidth. If you have no video, then that gets easier and maybe cheaper. If you are trying to do online commerce, then that means something else.

--B.G.--

Ian Destroyer of Forums
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Blog host question on 09/03/2013 19:22:31 MDT Print View

Thanks Nick. I liked your most recent blog entry. I hiked The Enchantments here in Washington yesterday so there seems to be a theme this week.

You've addressed most of my concerns Bob. If I find that the host isn't cutting it for me, I'd like to know that I could transfer my blog intact to another host. I don't understand how this works but is it safe to assume that transferring a Wordpress blog from host to host is fairly straightforward but if I were to start one on another platform, lets say Blogger, it's not?

I've recently started playing with video. At the moment the videos are crude but I'm putting in some effort to improve the quality. My plans are to upload the videos to YouTube and link to those videos from my blog. I'm not going to be involved with online commerce but my wife will when she launches one for her jewelry.

I've perused your pictures which are wonderful by the way.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Blog host question on 09/03/2013 19:25:46 MDT Print View

The free WP host does have an add at the bottom. Really doesn't bother me.

Most hosting companies have pretty easy to use software to move existing WP site over.

You may want to start a test on WP. Only problem would be moving it to your own domain and your audience won't know the URL.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Blog host question on 09/03/2013 19:39:35 MDT Print View

Ian,

I had a great time on that trip.

When I started researching I found there were mixed reviews on the host companies and the vast majority or reviewers had affiliate links to the host sites (they get money for every click).

So then I started looking at host sites and found most of the big ones had tools for simple installation of WP software. You can get free WP plug-ins to do all the stuff that you see on the right hand side of my site (if you are using a computer -- they are at the bottom of the screen on mobile devices). A couple I had to change the code, and the biggest problem for me was finding the correct page for the code.

It was all pretty easy with WP and the tools on Host Gator. Just spend some time researching. Keep in mind that I learned how to send a text message on a cell phone in May 2011 and built the website a year later. Isn't that difficult.

Ian Destroyer of Forums
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Blog host question on 09/03/2013 19:41:03 MDT Print View

I don't really care about the ad either. My largest concern is the ability to create a clean and organized blog and would like numerous options for font, color, etc when it comes time to make a final decision on how it will look. The general theme will be travel and my trip reports but I'll cover a few sub genres within that realm, including international travel (UL of course), backpacking, etc.

Edit: Because of the variety of travel, I'm looking for some flexibility in how I separate the topics in the header bar. The big plan is that the main screen will display my posts by date but if someone was interested in reading my Indian trip report, they could click on "International Travel" on the header bar to filter out unrelated posts.

I'm assuming that 90% of that is covered by Wordpress itself but that some of the hosts make the process easier.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 09/03/2013 19:44:33 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Blog host question on 09/03/2013 19:46:54 MDT Print View

"I've perused your pictures which are wonderful by the way."

Thank you. There are two web sites. One is my blog, and it has no images except for the simple banner at the top. Then the banner has a link to the online photo gallery, and it is hosted by Zenfolio. Therefore, Zenfolio gives me lots of creative latitude on the appearance of the online photo gallery, but it is in Zenfolio's domain. In other words, if I let my account with Zenfolio get bad, they could simply knock me off the air completely for photos. Or, if Zenfolio's servers had a bad day, it could all be down. The blog is completely independent, except for that one little link, and I have to depend on one hosting company for that.

Now, I could condense both of those into one web site, if I chose, but it would be a lot more to manage.

It just kind of depends on what you want to do and what your skills are.

--B.G.--

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Wordpress.com vs. wordpress.org on 09/04/2013 05:38:25 MDT Print View

I am not sure about the adds you talk about as I don't have them on either of my Wordpress.com sites. I have two sites, my backpacking one is free

http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

The other is for our business and I wanted the domain name so it costs $17 a year for the domain name.

http://peregrinefarm.net/

I have found Wordpress very easy to use.

Ian Destroyer of Forums
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Wordpress.com vs. wordpress.org on 09/04/2013 07:52:49 MDT Print View

Thanks Alex. I just subscribed to your backpacking blog.

Ian Destroyer of Forums
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Host Gator vs Bluehost vs Wordpress.com free on 09/04/2013 07:58:52 MDT Print View

At just a quick glance, it seems that Host Gator and Bluehost are pretty comparable.

One thing I noticed is that when I visited Host Gator last night, I downloaded a cookie and started receiving some targeted advertising from them on other websites like Amazon. Not a big deal and a reality of surfing the internet; just a casual observation.

Seeing that I've been following Nick's blog for a while now and have never heard of Host Gator before, I'm sure that this won't be a problem for my 10s of future subscribers.

Michael Driscoll
(Hillhikerz) - M

Locale: Monterey Bay
Blog host question on 09/04/2013 08:21:24 MDT Print View

1+ on wordpress.com

I the days of old (5 years ago) the php CMS's on a server were a pain...

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Wordpress.com vs. wordpress.org on 09/04/2013 09:12:01 MDT Print View

Alex,

I have seen a few free WP sites with a single ad at the bottom, seems there is a note at the bottom with something like, "about these ads."

Since I read a few blogs ocassionally I am just reading the most recent posts and not scrolling to the bottom.

Ryan Bressler
(ryanbressler) - F
Thoughts on Blogger on 09/04/2013 09:36:02 MDT Print View

Blogger is actually quite good. I use it to back the hillmap blog:

blog.hillmap.com

It is quite themable/configureable and there are lots of widgets you can use to add top/side bars. We have some adds and affiliate links on there but you don't need to.

It may not be quite as customizable as Wordpress and I wouldn't use it for something like an organization/business website but it is free and super easy to get up and running which is a plus.

There are a large number of preset themes with easy to use customization tools to tweak things like column use and header images and you can set it up on your own domain name.

Integration with piccasa/google plus is also nice for easily managing photos...I've been enjoying the automatic panorama stitching they just added.

We are starting a wordpress blot at work and although it looks beautiful thanks to a custom theme I find the post editor painful compared to blogger.

There is also import/export functionality between blogger and wordpress (or other engines I think) if you want or need to move your post somewhere else later.

My advice would be to look at some themes and make a test post on both platforms and see what you like.

Ryan

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Host Gator vs Bluehost vs Wordpress.com free on 09/04/2013 09:37:57 MDT Print View

The decision is whether you want to own your own domain (e.g., backpackinglight.com). If you have your own domain you have more control, but there is nothing I do right now that I couldn't do with WP.com. I could set up email accounts and other goodies. I have more storage space.

So why did I opt to go with my own domain and host it on a commercial server?

Because I did not want to be subject to WP policies and possible changes in the future. I am not saying there is anything wrong with WP, but who knows what might happen.

Here is an example. For several years I had my pictures stored on Webshots, organized by albums. I had more pictures than was permitted under the free account and paid $25 a year to be a premium member. Over 9 years my Webshots site had over 1.5 million hits and was the #3 rated site in its category. Friends and family would check the site periodically to see what I was up to. There were no stories, just pictures with captions. Then the site was sold. The new owners decided to change it into a social networking site (eek!) and deleted everyone's albums. Over this 9 year period I had linked a lot of these pictures to posts on a tent trailer forum (pictures have to be linked to an external URL the cannot be uploaded to their server), so now all those posts no longer have pictures but a box that says image no longer available.

I used to post trip reports on BPL, which everyone takes quite a bit of time to do if you are adding pictures and is a nightmare to format text, unless you are Bill Gates. Plus BPL is in turmoil, moderators can delete anything you post (rarely happens unless you are Ken Thompson), the owner doesn't seem to care much about BPL, and I don't want to have my hard work disappear into electron hell as happened with Webshots.

Lastly, the blog turned out to be a good method to communicate with my grown kids. They can check out what I am doing and my son, who backpacks, can check out my trips and thoughts in gear -- mostly gives him an idea of what to ask for on his birthday or Christmas. I guess the kids like the blog idea, my daughter just started her own. Besides, Facebook sucks and I am not going to do the Facebook thing :)

Ian Destroyer of Forums
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Host Gator vs Bluehost vs Wordpress.com free on 09/04/2013 22:56:06 MDT Print View

Nick,

I'm definitely going to pay for my own domain after reading about your experience with Webshots. That sounds like a nightmare to see all that work and effort disappear.

Ian Destroyer of Forums
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Blog is up on 09/06/2013 09:13:04 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the help gentlemen.

I launched my blog last night. While it will still need some refinement, I found Wordpress to be very easy to work with. As always, constructive criticism always appreciated.

nwtrailbum.com

My wife and I are using my blog as a learning opportunity before we create hers.

Take care and thanks again,

Ian

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Blog is up on 09/06/2013 09:27:16 MDT Print View

Looks good on both my computer and iPhone. I like that you picked a nice clean template.

Also, I don't like blogs that run the entire post on the Home Page. So your use of the "Insert More Tag" makes it aesthetically pleasing. Oh my, I got to use a big word.

Ian Destroyer of Forums
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Blog is up on 09/06/2013 09:40:11 MDT Print View

You gave that advice to another blogger a while back and I applied it to my blog. Just call me the super stalker.

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
looks good on 09/06/2013 10:43:08 MDT Print View

Looks good Ian, as you go think about how you will set up your categories and pages so that it makes sense to find and organize posts. Also make sure to use the tags which will help folks find things when they do searches. Not every post deserves it's own category, you see some blogs where each stove review, say, is a category. Should be stoves as the category and each review goes in there, or Gear is the category and stoves a sub category and each stove has a tag of make and model. Same with pages and subpages.

To me archives are worthless for finding things because it all just chronological.